I hear a lot about brick and mortar schools being the problem with education these days. I kind of resent that analogy. I get it, in some ways, but I went to a brick and mortar school. I was inspired to become a teacher by teachers who taught in a brick and mortar school. Somehow that education system which created the America today is no longer enough to prepare us to compete in the future. True, in some ways. However, while I don’t defend the status quo and fully realize that some change is necessary, I do get a bit tired of thr constant noise about 21st century skills and brick and mortar schools. Colleges state our students aren’t ready. Companies state their new employees aren’t prepared for work in the 21st century. Countries around the world are kickin’ our collective butts on tests. I know I could debunk or challenge many of these assertions (some of these links should help) but that it not my point here. People like to speak in sweeping generalizations. It’s kind of what is motivating all of this “education reform”. It’s easy to look at the world this way because, unfortunately, maybe we have become lazy thinkers when it comes to our biggest challenges. Education is one of our most important challenges, and it serves no one to be a lazy thinker when discussing it.
Talk with students and teachers and they will tell you what’s wrong. They will tell you what needs to be done to fix what’s not working and what will better prepare our students for the future, enhance learning, innovate instruction, etc.. Sure the day-in and day-out of non-stop lecturing is not the way to educate students (pay attention some college professors). Sure teachers are no longer the sole distributors of content (we have the Khan Academy now and Google to replace that). But is the education system really that bad that so many schools feel they must now spend every waking professional development moment going over the “new” evaluation system, SGOs, SGPs, due to all this “education reform”? Is any of this really improving education? Is it enhancing learning and improving instruction?
Education today can afford us opportunities to expand the how and what we learn like never before. That is exciting. Technology is an amazing tool that can connect educators and students around the world to communicate, create, collaborate, and solve problems. In other words, learning can be, not just meaningful, but fun and and engaging. Are we spending our time working with fellow educators to promote this and provide teachers the time to develop the skills to improve the how and what we teach? And, even if we did do these things, would we see the improvements the way we want with all the “outside” pressures teachers now face? I don’t want to come across as negative. I really am a positive guy. But again, if you talk with students, teachers and parents, I doubt the changes that are being promoted and the precious time being lost in schools to meet the “outside” pressures, would be the changes they would advocate for in order to enhance learning and improve instruction. Something, unfortunately, is lost with what is being asked of students and teachers today in this world of “education reform”. Something is lost and educators feel it every day. Yet, it is my intention, as a leader in a school, to continue to work with my fellow educators, to help us all connect with one another, to inspire, motivate, share, and learn from one another so that in spite of all the nonsense we are facing from “outside” pressures, we can still grow and improve what we do to continue to prepare students, as brick and mortar schools did, for a successful future despite all the naysayers. We’ll see…….